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Joan Mitchell

American Painter and Printmaker

Movement: Abstract Expressionism

Born: February 12, 1925 - Chicago, Illinois

Died: October 30, 1992 - Vetheuil, France

Joan Mitchell Timeline

Important Art by Joan Mitchell

The below artworks are the most important by Joan Mitchell - that both overview the major creative periods, and highlight the greatest achievements by the artist.

Untitled (1951)

Untitled (1951)

Artwork description & Analysis: Untitled (1951) was one of the seminal works in Joan Mitchell's first solo exhibition at The New Gallery in New York City in 1952. Paul Brach's review announced, "The debut of this young painter marks the appearance of a new personality in abstract painting. Miss Mitchell's huge canvases are post-Cubist in their precise articulation of spatial intervals, yet they remain close in spirit to American Abstract Expressionism in their explosive impact."

Oil on canvas. Dimensions: 72 x 78 inches. © Estate of Joan Mitchell, Courtesy of the Joan Mitchell Foundation - Estate of Joan Mitchell

City Landscape (1955)

City Landscape (1955)

Artwork description & Analysis: Informed by an urban energy, City Landscape is an iconic example of Mitchell's early work. The tension between the horizontal brushstrokes of vibrant color in the center with the surrounding whites exemplifies her use of the figure-ground relationship. The work also demonstrates her debt to Philip Guston, whose Abstract Expressionist work was often likened to Impressionism.

Oil on canvas. Dimensions: 80 x 80 inches. © Estate of Joan Mitchell, Courtesy of the Joan Mitchell Foundation - The Art Institute of Chicago

Hemlock (1956)

Hemlock (1956)

Artwork description & Analysis: Mitchell's paintings are striking in their sheer physicality. She used bold and active strokes of paint on large canvases. In Hemlock, her use of cool whites interplays with the horizontal lines of green and black and gives the sense of an evergreen in the winter.

Oil on canvas. Dimensions: 91 x 80 inches. © Estate of Joan Mitchell, Courtesy of the Joan Mitchell Foundation - Whitney Museum of American Art

Tilleul (1978)

Tilleul (1978)

Artwork description & Analysis: Tilleul is one of Mitchell's most direct examples of landscape abstractions. In French, telleul is a linden tree, and Mitchell created a group of paintings inspired by the tree in front of her home in Vetheuil, France. Not a representation, the dense vertical strokes of paint evoke the essence of tree branches reaching upward.

Oil on canvas. Dimensions: 102 3/8 x 70 7/8 inches. © Estate of Joan Mitchell, Courtesy of the Joan Mitchell Foundation - Musee National d'Art Moderne/Centre George Pompidou

La Grande Vallee XIV (For a Little While) (1983)

La Grande Vallee XIV (For a Little While) (1983)

Artwork description & Analysis: La Grande Vallee paintings are an outstanding group of 21 large-scale works created over the span of just one year. Uniquely conceived as a whole or unit, the paintings created a lush and poetic environment when exhibited together. The Grand Valley refers to a story of a secret place or private haven and relates to Mitchell's grief over the deaths of her sister and a good friend.

Oil on canvas. Dimensions: 110 x 236 1/4 inches. © Estate of Joan Mitchell, Courtesy of the Joan Mitchell Foundation - Musee National d'Art Modern/Centre Georges Pompidou

Bracket (1989)

Bracket (1989)

Artwork description & Analysis: A striking 15 feet wide, Bracket is a magnificent example of Mitchell's late work. Known for creating large works, her use of two or more panels allowed her to create monumental works of art. She used the interplay between panels as a compositional tool, like paragraphs or stanzas in a poem.

Oil on canvas, triptych. Dimensions: 102 1/2 x 181 3/4 inches. © Estate of Joan Mitchell, Courtesy of the Joan Mitchell Foundation - San Francisco Museum of Modern Art



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Joan Mitchell Photo

Related Art and Artists

Excavation (1950)
Artwork Images

Excavation (1950)

Artist: Willem de Kooning

Artwork description & Analysis: Excavation marked the culmination of de Kooning's abstract phase of the 1940s. Like Attic, it is concerned with the relationship of figure to ground, and the jagged edges of the biomorphic forms collide forcefully within the space of the composition.However, unlike Attic, it employs a range of primary colors as highlights. This classic example of action painting was among the last works completed before de Kooning returned to color and the figure with full enthusiasm in his Women series.

Oil on canvas - The Art Institute of Chicago

Last Piece (1958)
Artwork Images

Last Piece (1958)

Artist: Philip Guston

Artwork description & Analysis: Last Piece is not Guston's last Abstract Expressionist painting, but it represents a transition away from the shimmering forms of the early 1950s towards the recognizable motifs of his later, more figurative works. If Buddhism, and concepts of nothingness, had informed his earlier abstractions, this represents a move away from those inspirations.

Goauche on board 22 in.x30 in. - Museum of Modern Art; Estate of Philip Guston

The Liver is the Cock's Comb (1944)

The Liver is the Cock's Comb (1944)

Artist: Arshile Gorky

Artwork description & Analysis: Though abstract to a great degree, this work nevertheless reveals Gorky's fondness for organic forms loosely based in nature and the sumptuous colors that would prove to be essential to his mature style. The work of Pablo Picasso and Wassily Kandinsky, as well as that of Joan Miro and Roberto Matta (who in 1942 suggested that Gorky use more turpentine to loosen up the paint) provided strong influences on Gorky's painting practice. In 1945, Andre Breton, the author of the 1924 Surrealist Manifesto, praised this painting for its combination of nature and reality, filtered through memory and feeling. The scholar Harry Rand has discussed the content of this picture at length, pointing out the rooster-headed figure with the feathered groin at the right as the vain fool. Rand explains that the liver was once thought of as the seat of the passions (love and lust), thus punning on the "cock's comb" part of the title, and could also be construed as "one who lives," therefore asserting that life itself is vanity and all in vain.

Oil on canvas - Albright Knox Gallery. Buffalo, NY

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